Who We Are

Founded in 2010, Treehouse Theatre is a non-profit organisation based in Sydney Australia, performing the stories of young refugees.

What We Do

In the Treehouse program, the young refugees tell their personal stories in a group counselling circle. The stories are recorded verbatim. The Treehouse directors write them up into scripts.  Music, sound effects, lighting and visual effects are added. The scripts are then workshopped with the students and more details of the actual events often emerge. The aim is to create a coherent narrative of the trauma. As they rehearse in a safe, happy and playful environment, the young people are repeatedly exposed to these events. They gradually realise that they can remember these horrors and maintain a sense of control. The culmination of the program is performance in professional theatres. On the completion of the program, students report improved sleep and concentration, and a reduction in nightmares and flashbacks. They also report a huge boost to their self confidence.

Previous audiences have testified to feeling both enlivened and transformed by the stories, and we listen to the sounds of audiences sobbing, and then shouting with laughter, with full hearts. Treehouse Theatre delights in the growth of confidence and happiness in our young refugees, as they discover that Australians are fascinated by what they have to say.

Why We Do It

The program has two aims.  Firstly to facilitate trauma recovery for our young refugee cast and secondly to educate the Australian public, especially high school students, about the reality of the refugee experience. The warm and heartfelt responses our audiences give to our performers make our cast, their families, and other refugees in the audience, feel valued, empowered and above all, welcome in their new country.

How It All Began

Directors Ruth and Catherine are old friends, having met in our work with young refugees; Catherine as a Psychologist and School Counsellor, and Ruth as a Drama teacher and teacher of English as a Second Language. Isaac, a high school Drama teacher and Director, joined us some years later. The directors all love theatre and believe in the power of stories to enliven and transform, and in the “tangled magics” (to quote Tim Winton) of live theatre to take us inside the experience of the story-teller.

The programs would not be possible without the support of schools and their principals. Constant school participation comes from Miller Technology High School and Intensive English Centre and Holroyd High School and Intensive English Centre.